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The two-year curriculum in Illustration as Visual Essay is designed to capitalize on the technical facility required of students upon entrance to the program. As a result, the program breaks into two distinct parts.

The first year concentrates on teaching additional technical skills and introduces students to the necessity of achieving a personal viewpoint as an illustrator.

The second year allows students to put into practice the lessons of the first year, through the course Thesis Project: Visual Essay.

The program operates on a pass/fail grading system with individual reviews each year. At the end of the first year, students must receive an acceptable review from the faculty panel in order to go on to the second year. 

In the final semester, each student is required to complete a thesis project, which must be reviewed and approved by the thesis committee and the department chair in order for the student to be eligible for degree conferral.

Degree candidates must successfully complete 60 credits, including all required courses. A residency of two academic years is required. In exceptional instances transfer credit may be awarded. Decisions concerning transfer of credit are made by the committee on graduate admissions.

First Year Requirements

ILG-5010  Critique I
ILG-5015  Critique II
ILG-5020  Drawing I
ILG-5025  Drawing II
ILG-5040  Book Seminar
HCG-5050  Creative Writing Workshop I
HCG-5055  Creative Writing Workshop II
ILG-5090  Computer Illustration Portfolio I
ILG-5095  Computer Illustration Portfolio II
ILG-5120  Seminar


Second Year Requirements

ILG-6010  Thesis Project Visual Essay I
ILG-6015  Thesis Project Visual Essay II
ILG-6020  Studio Workshop I
ILG-6025  Studio Workshop II
ILG-6040  Thesis Review I
ILG-6045  Thesis Review II
ILG-6050  Painting I
ILG-6055  Painting II 
ILG-6070  History of Storytelling
ILG-6110 The Digital Book
ILG-6200  Illustration Business Book Camp

General Course Listing

First Year

Critique I
Fall semester: 3 credits
The morning session of this course is structured to emphasize the relationship between fine art and commercial art in dealing with the visual essay. Students will begin the process of developing visual essays in a limited form. There will be weekly assignments dealing with a variety of subjects related to contemporary concerns. Students will begin to incorporate the material from HCG-5050, Creative Writing Workshop I, with their artwork. The afternoon is conducted primarily as a studio session in which a wide range of media is investigated, and various approaches to composing an image will be explored. Tools and methods will be introduced for both ongoing projects initiated in the studio and unexpected workshop situations.

Critique II
Spring semester: 3 credits
A continuation of ILG-5010, Critique I, this course will focus on the production of a one-of-a-kind book that includes text and image. Individual meetings and class critiques are ongoing throughout the semester.

ILG-5020 / ILG-5025
Drawing I and II
Two semesters: 3 credits per semester
The development of drawing ability with a concentration on discovering a unique personal voice is the focus of these courses. Through drawing from models in the studio and going out on location, students will also study and interpret the relationships between subjects and their environment, and expand their drawing vocabulary beyond the use of a two-dimensional reference. By keeping sketchbooks and compiling interviews, students will explore receptive observation, risk-taking, spontaneity, drawing from intuition and sketching from the energy and unpredictability of being on location. At least one narrative series assignment will be completed over the course of the year.

Book Seminar
Fall semester: 3 credits
Students will experiment and create a body of work based on the short story. Although the course title is Book Seminar, students are not confined to the book format; however, a series of objects or an installation is encouraged. Students will outline their ideas in a thesis statement prior to the start of the course, which they will present and discuss in the first session. This written statement will serve as a point of departure and later as a point of reference while the work evolves to its final stages. The project will explore technical, aesthetic and conceptual interests while looking into professional directions and specializations.

HCG-5041 / HCG-5043
Writing Workshop I and II
Two semesters: no credit
These support courses for the creative writing workshops will focus on writing fundamentals (grammar, sentence and paragraph logic, idea development, organization and essay structure).

Creative Writing Workshop I
Two semesters: 3 credits per semester
These workshops are structured to develop writing skills in prose and fiction through readings and discussions. The goal is to explore personal expression through writing that reflects artistic concerns. The spring semester will focus on poetry, writing for the theater and songwriting.

ILG-5090 / ILG-5095
Computer Illustration Portfolio I and II
Two semesters: 3 credits per semester
Digital tools have become mainstream in the design and printing fields, and the Internet has evolved into a medium that enables illustrators to create interactive animations and globally accessible projects. These courses will touch upon several aspects of digital technology, from advanced Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator techniques for print to all facets of web design production as well as interactive Flash animation. Understanding the fundamentals of computer illustration will aid students in preparing professional projects and personal portfolios. The spring semester will focus on website design. See ILG-5090 for course description.

Spring semester: 3 credits
Through lectures by noted guest illustrators, political satirists, art directors and graphic designers, this seminar will explore the many specialized areas of visual commentators. The course will also include portfolio reviews from professionals working in the field.

Second Year

ILG-6010 / ILG-6015
Thesis Project: Visual Essay I and II
Two semesters: 3 credits fall semester, 6 credits spring semester
Students will choose a New York City artist as their thesis faculty advisor to work with on an individual basis, and establish a schedule to research, write and visualize the thesis project. Emphasis will be on topics with visual essay interest such as graphic novels, comics, illustrated books, children’s books or a series of paintings. The spring semester will focus on the completion of thesis projects. Students will participate in a group exhibition at the end of the semester.

ILG-6020 / ILG-6025
Studio Workshop I and II
Two semesters: 3 credits fall semester, 6 credits spring semester
Studio Workshop I will develop concepts and finished artwork in relation to the thesis project. Student work will be critiqued regularly by visiting professionals (illustrators, art directors, artists and gallery directors). Studio Workshop II will focus on refining and completing thesis projects. There will be individual and group critiques; visiting professionals will continue to view and discuss student projects.

ILG-6040 / ILG-6045
Thesis Review I and II
Two semesters: no credit
Thesis Review is a series of individual meetings with the department chair for review and critique of the thesis project. The meetings will supplement the ongoing work in ILG-6010 and ILG-6015, Thesis Project: Visual Essay I and II.

ILG-6050 / ILG-6055
Painting I and II
Two semesters: 3 credits per semester
With an emphasis on figurative painting techniques, the fall semester will focus on the uses of form, color, composition, light, proportion and perspective. Contemporary and classical approaches to oil painting will be explored. The goal is to provide a solid foundation in oil painting techniques. The spring semester will focus on an advanced approach to the concepts and techniques of figurative painting in oil, including direct, sustained observation of the human form. Emphasis is placed on a more fully developed or visualized painting process.

History of Storytelling: Comics
Fall semester: 3 credits
This course provides an introduction to graphic media in North America, from the beginning of the newspaper comic strip through the development of comic books, the growth of graphic novels, and current developments in electronic media. Focusing on its history and aesthetics, we will compare developments in the United States, Mexico and French Canada, as well as the social and cultural contexts in which comics are created and consumed. The first half of the semester will concentrate on early comic strips and the development of the comic-book form through the 1940s. The remainder of the semester will focus on changes that affected comics in the 1950s and ’60s, the development of a comic-book subculture from the 1970s to the 1980s, and contemporary electronic media developments.

The Digital Book
Fall semester: 3 credits
Our desire to tell stories always has, and always will, adapt to and define new mediums. The storybook is as old as writing systems themselves, its evolution is bound to that of mankind. The history of film is saturated with animated predictions of stories and characters coming to life and walking off the page. Today, the proliferation of tablets and e-book readers has already begun redefining what storytelling and characters can be. The digital revolution introduced the storybook to hypertext and interactivity, with the Internet came social interaction and data-driven narrative. As perceptions regarding digital media shifts from desktop to multi-touch tablet computers, it’s increasingly apparent that reading, storytelling, animation and interactivity are standing on the precipice of their own revolution. In short: There has never been a more exciting time to be in the business of telling stories.

Illustration Business Book Camp
Spring semester: no credit
Illustration Business Boot Camp is based on intensive critique and instructional sessions. It will focus on three goals: the solid understanding of the professional illustration environment; the review of existing work and its transformation into a presentable and cohesive body of work; the development and application of brand and identity tools for communicating, showcasing and promoting your work.

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